A question given extra clarity by consisting of just one simple quizzical word.

But before the why came the what. My research had identified todays end point of Preveza as a “yachtie” harbour town about 40 miles down the coast . That meant plentiful accommodation and places to refuel so that was that -planning complete 😊

It was another baking hot, cloudless day as I left Parga, and yesterdays swooping downhill became todays four mile uphill slog. I always remembered my old mate Spillys’ simple advice for hills –“just ride slower” and that’s how it went . This was another great cycling day -the places I was visiting were the dots that the cycling was joining up, and today was one of the good days .

Again I decided to stick to the main road all the way . It was still quiet, well signposted and at one point,even went around a mountain rather than over it as the route app suggested . Happy days .

The long and winding road

Nothing much happened though. That’s a good thing by the way. This is a good time to give my bike a small round of applause. It was behaving impeccably and running like a dream, despite getting quite a bit of hammer and being lifted and left all over the place . I’d given it a mini fettle last week, just a clean and some lube, tightened a cable and that was it. Super reliable and comfortable, I was really pleased with it . And I told it so. I didn’t really, I know I’ve had plenty of lonely miles but I wasn’t yet at the stage of talking to my bike . Or was I?😂

The only amenities on this stretch were at the occasional petrol stations along the way -unlike Italy and Spain where petrol stations sold only fuel (I know, how old fashioned 😊), here there were shops attached and in most cases a cafe .

I pulled into one for a drink stop,and moved myself to the shady table and chairs at the back . Here was my view ….

I know. Big deal. Just like Leicester Forest East services .

Later I bumped into a Swiss chap riding from Zurich to Athens . Let’s call him Toby Lerone. His right calf heavily bandaged after a dog bite in Albania, I felt slightly (very) inadequate as he told me tales of wild camping in the mountains, washing in streams,navigating by the sun and generally being “off grid, man” He certainly made me glad I’d swerved Albania and we did that cyclist thing of talking about bikes and set ups, his being a sturdy Akoba brand that looked like it had a few stories to tell.

I pressed on and within a couple of hours I was in Preveza . Todays hotel, Dioni Boutique Hotel, was a half price deal of the day. It was lovely but I don’t think I was the target audience for the place, bearing in mind I wasn’t rich. Or clean. Or in possession of any clothes not made of polyester . No matter, the receptionist was a model of charming professional discretion and didn’t even acknowledge something I’d become aware of in the last few hours .

Yesterday I swam in the sea. In my kit, which I rinsed out in the sea and was wearing again today. Except of course, I hadn’t done a proper rinsing job and now I was covered in salt. At home they’d have a competition to name me, like Salty McSaltface or something . Look at the state of this

What an idiot. Neither of us made any mention of it as I checked in, with the usual questions about where I could store my bike. “Have you cycled here today “ she asked politely, “oh yes” I proudly replied, “I’m on the way to Athens “. She looked up and asked politely “from where?” which was my cue to puff my salty chest out and nonchalantly drop “ from England”

Despite that hugely impressive answer she didn’t look up for a few seconds,and then with exquisite timing just quizzically dropped the bomb….”why?”

Why indeed? A startling simple question that I couldn’t really answer . It felt glib to say “why not?” but I couldn’t really articulate anything else. Maybe time will help me.

The question was still ringing in my ears as I went to eat and on my return guess what I saw next to my locked up bike outside the hotel? Only a certain Akoba bike belonging to Toby “off grid” Lerone …. hmmm.

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